BREAKING: ExxonMobil Oil Pipeline Bursts In Arkansas; 80,000 Gallons Spilled
Officials are examining how an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying a highly concentrated crude oil ruptured on Friday, spilling at least 80,000 gallons of oils into central Arkansas.
The spill has been labeled "major" by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As of Saturday afternoon, 189,000 gallons of oil and water have been recovered with cleanup actions continuing through Monday. Twenty-two homes have been evacuated.
"Well we could see oil running down the road like a river," Joe Bradley, a local resident ordered to evacuate, told KTHV.
The spill did not reach nearby Lake Conway, however some pollution has been reported, including ten oiled ducks found around the site of the accident.
The 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline was carrying Wabasca Heavy crude, a type of diluted bitumen (or dilbit) recovered from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The line has since been shut down.
The spill has reignited criticism surrounding the safety of transporting oil that contains dilbit, a type of crude that is more difficult to clean from water and is also believed to be more corrosive to pipelines.
The Obama administration is currently considering the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Opponents say spills like this should convince legislators to prevent further investment in risky infrastructure.
“Without question, this underscores the risks of transporting this stuff,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, to Reuters.
Although admitting the Arkansas spill is "an unfortunate circumstance," Shawn Howard of TransCanada defended the need to maintain oil industry practices due to consumer demand.
“Americans consume 15 million barrels of oil every day to heat their homes, cook their food and start their cars," said Howard in an email to Bloomberg. Oil and petroleum products are part of our daily lives.”